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Before 9/11

Warning Signs (228)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (27)
Insider Trading (36)
Counterterrorism Before 9/11 (181)
Able Danger (39)
Military Exercises (38)
Hunt for bin Laden (73)
Pipeline Politics (54)

Al-Qaeda Members

Al-Qaeda in Germany (42)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar (74)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (48)
Marwan Alshehhi (21)
Mohamed Atta (37)
Ziad Jarrah (9)
Hani Hanjour (15)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (33)
Zacarias Moussaoui (40)
Nabil al-Marabh (10)

Geopolitics and 9/11

Pakistani ISI (126)
Randy Glass (7)
Sibel Edmonds (6)
Saeed Sheikh (3)
Mahmood Ahmed (3)
Drugs (21)
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family (110)
Bin Laden Family (33)
Israel (33)
Iraq (49)
US Dominance (34)

Day of 9/11

All day of 9/11 events (401)
Flight AA 11 (62)
Flight UA 175
Flight AA 77 (70)
Flight UA 93 (105)
George Bush (66)
Dick Cheney (24)
Donald Rumsfeld (24)
Richard Clarke (22)

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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Complete 911 Timeline: United Airlines Flight 175

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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(7:00 a.m.-7:45 a.m.): Computer Screening Program Selects Some Hijackers; Fails to Stop Them

       Sometime during this period, the hijackers pass through airport security checkpoints at the various airports. The FAA has a screening program in place called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS automatically targets passengers for additional screening based on suspicious behavior such as buying one-way tickets or paying with cash. If a passenger is selected, their bags are thoroughly screened for explosives, but their bodies are not searched. [Washington Post, 1/28/04] CAPPS selects three of the five Flight 11 hijackers. Since Waleed Alshehri checked no bags, his selection had no consequences. Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami have their bags scanned for explosives, but are not stopped. No Flight 175 hijackers are selected. Only Ahmad Alhaznawi is selected from Flight 93. His bag is screened for explosives, but he is not stopped. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Alhaznawi and Ahmed Alnami, also headed to Flight 93, have suspicious indicators and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon inspection, but it has not been explained why or how. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/04] Screening of the Flight 77 hijackers is described below.
People and organizations involved: Waleed M. Alshehri, Ahmed Alnami, Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, Wail Alshehri, 9/11 Commission Report, Satam Al Suqami, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(Before 7:59 a.m.): Inter Flight Phone Call Between Hijackers

       Hijacker Mohamed Atta on Flight 11 calls hijacker Marwan Alshehhi in Flight 175 as both planes sit on the runway. They presumably confirm the plot is on. [Time, 8/4/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta
          

8:14 a.m.: Flight 175 Takes Off 16 Minutes Late

       Flight 175 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport, 16 minutes after its scheduled 7:58 departure time. [Washington Post, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Guardian, 10/17/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); Newsday, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Logan Airport
          

8:25 a.m.: Boston Flight Control Tells Other Centers About Hijack, but Not NORAD

       The Guardian reports that Boston flight control “notifies several air traffic control centers that a hijack is taking place.” But it does not notify NORAD for another 6-15 minutes, depending on the account. [Guardian, 10/17/01] However, the Indianapolis flight controller monitoring Flight 77 claims to not know about this or Flight 175's hijacking twenty minutes later at 8:56 a.m. Additionally, the flight controllers at New York City's La Guardia airport are never told about the hijacked planes and learn about them from watching the news. [Bergen Record, 1/4/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, La Guardia Airport, Boston flight control
          

(8:34 a.m.): Atlantic City Fighters Not Reached; Not Redeployed Until Much Later

       Around this time, Boston flight control attempts to contact an Atlantic City, New Jersey, air base, to send fighters after Flight 11. For decades, the air base had two fighters on 24-hour alert status, but this changed in 1998 due to budget cutbacks. The flight controllers do not realize this, and apparently try in vain to reach someone. Two F-16s from this base are practicing bombing runs over an empty stretch of the Pine Barrens near Atlantic City. Only eight minutes away from New York City, they are not alerted to the emerging crisis. Shortly after the second WTC crash at 9:03 a.m., the two F-16s are ordered to land and are refitted with air-to-air missiles, then sent aloft. However, the pilots re-launch more than an hour after the second crash. They are apparently sent to Washington, but do not reach there until almost 11:00 a.m. After 9/11, one newspaper questions why NORAD “left what seems to be a yawning gap in the midsection of its air defenses on the East Coast—a gap with New York City at the center.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Bergen Record, 12/5/03] Had these two fighters been notified at 8:37 a.m. or before, they could have reached New York City before Flight 11.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Boston flight control
          

8:37 a.m.: Flight 11 Enters New York Control Space

       Flight 11 passes from Boston flight control airspace into New York flight control airspace. Flight controller John Hartling takes over monitoring the plane. However, when a colleague tells him the flight is hijacked, he is incredulous: “I didn't believe him. Because I didn't think that that stuff would happen anymore, especially in this country.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, John Hartling
          

8:37 a.m.: Flight 175 Pilots Asked to Look for Flight 11

       Flight controllers ask the United Airlines Flight 175 pilots to look for a lost American Airlines plane 10 miles to the south—a reference to Flight 11. They respond that they can see it. They are told to keep away from it. [Guardian, 10/17/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently, Flight 175 is not told Flight 11 has been hijacked. Flight 175 itself is hijacked a few minutes later (see 8:41 a.m.).
          

8:41 a.m.: Flight 175 Reports Suspicious Flight 11 Radio Transmission; Hijacked Moments Later

       The pilots of Flight 175 tell ground control about Flight 11, “We figured we'd wait to go to your center. We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of Boston. Someone keyed the mic and said, ‘Everyone stay in your seats.’ It cut out.” [Guardian, 10/17/01; Newsday, 9/10/02; New York Times, 10/16/01] An alternate version: “We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from B-O-S [Boston's airport code]. Sounds like someone keyed the mic and said, ‘Everyone, stay in your seats.’ ” [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] The last transmission from Flight 175, still discussing this message, comes a few seconds before 8:42 a.m. [New York Times, 10/16/01] Presumably Flight 175 is hijacked within the next minute.
          

8:41 a.m.: New York Flight Control Knows Flight 11 Has Been Hijacked

       Flight 175 flies into New York flight control airspace. Dave Bottoglia takes over monitoring the flight. Bottoglia has just been told by the pilot of Flight 175 that he has heard threatening communications from Flight 11. Seconds later, a controller sitting next to Bottoglia gets up and points to a radar blip. He says, “You see this target here? This is American 11. Boston [flight control] thinks it's a hijack.” John Hartling has been watching the hijacked Flight 11 since 8:37 a.m. Bottoglia joins Hartling in watching Flight 11's blip until it disappears over New York City. He does not pay attention to Flight 175 for several minutes. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] The New York flight control center was notified of Flight 11's hijacking around 8:25 a.m.
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, John Hartling, Dave Bottoglia
          

8:43 a.m.: NORAD Notified That Flight 175 Has Been Hijacked

      
National Guard troops stationed at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, New York.
After 9/11, NORAD and other sources claim that NORAD is notified at this time Flight 175 has been hijacked. [Newsday, 9/10/02; Associated Press, 8/19/02; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01] The 9/11 Commission, however, later concludes that New York flight control gives NEADS its first notification that Flight 175 has been hijacked at 9:03 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] If this earlier account is the accurate one, NEADS technicians learn of the hijacking at the exact same time the flight controllers do. They already have their headsets linked to Boston flight control to track Flight 11 at this time,and so they learn instantly about Flight 175. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/02]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Northeast Air Defense Sector, New York flight control
          

8:44 a.m.: Other Pilots Notice Flight 175's Emergency Signal

       The pilot of US Airlines Flight 583 tells an unidentified flight controller, regarding Flight 175, “I just picked up an ELT [emergency locator transmitter] on 121.5. It was brief but it went off.” The controller responds, “O.K. they said it's confirmed believe it or not as a thing, We're not sure yet...” One minute later, another pilot says, “We picked up that ELT, too, but it's very faint.” [New York Times, 10/16/01 (B)] Flight 175 appears to have been the only trigger of any emergency signal on 9/11. It is possible the ELT came from Flight 11 instead.
          

8:46 a.m.: Flight 175 Changes Transponder Signal but Remains Easily Traceable

       Flight 175 stops transmitting its transponder signal. It is 50 miles north of New York City, headed toward Baltimore. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Newsday, 9/10/02; Guardian, 10/17/01] However, the transponder is turned off for only about 30 seconds, and then changed to a signal that is not designated for any plane on that day. [Newsday, 9/10/02] This “allow[s] controllers to track the intruder easily, though they couldn't identify it.” [Washington Post, 9/17/01]
          

8:46 a.m.: Flight 11 Hits the North Tower of the World Trade Center

      
Flight 11 hits the WTC North Tower at 8:46. This video still is the only well-known image of this crash.
Flight 11 slams into the WTC North Tower (Building 1). Seismic records pinpoint the crash at 26 seconds after 8:46 a.m. [New York Times, 9/12/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); New York Times, 9/11/02; USA Today, 12/20/01; Newsday, 9/10/02; USA Today, 8/13/02] Investigators believe the plane still has about 10,000 gallons of fuel and is traveling approximately 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] The plane strikes the 93rd through 98th floors in the 110-story building. No one above the crash line survives; approximately 1,360 people die. Below the crash line, approximately 72 die and more than 4,000 survive. Both towers are slightly less than half full at the time of the attack, with between 5,000 to 7,000 people in each tower. This number is lower than expected. Many office workers have not yet shown up to work, and tourists to the observation deck opening at 9:30 A.M. have yet to arrive. [USA Today, 12/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

8:46 a.m.: New York Flight Control Suspects Flight 175 Hijacking

       New York flight controller Dave Bottoglia is in charge of monitoring both Flights 11 and 175. He has just watched Flight 11's radar blip disappear over New York City, but does not yet realize the plane has crashed. “Within seconds” of losing Flight 11's blip, he realizes that Flight 175 is also missing. He has another controller take over all his other planes so he can focus on finding Flight 175. He tries contacting the planes several times unsuccessfully. Curt Applegate, sitting at the radar screen next to Bottoglia, sees a blip that might be the missing Flight 11. In fact, it is the missing Flight 175. Just as Bottoglia notices it, its transponder signal turns back on, but at a different signal than before. “There is no longer any question in Bottoglia's mind that he's looking at a second hijacked airliner,” according to later MSNBC reports. Bottoglia then notices Flight 175 turn east and start descending. He keeps an eye on it and sees it head right toward Delta Flight 2315. He recalls saying to the Delta Flight, “Traffic, 2:00, ten miles. I think he's been hijacked. I don't know his intentions. Take any evasive action necessary.” Flight 2315 takes evasive action, missing Flight 175 by less than 200 feet. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] However, there is no claim that NORAD is notified about the hijacking at this time. On the other hand, according to a NORAD timeline from shortly after 9/11, NORAD is notified by Boston flight control three minutes earlier at 8:43 a.m. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The 9/11 Commission seems to ignore this account from Bottoglia completely, asserting that he notices the transponder change at 8:51 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, Curt Applegate, Dave Bottoglia, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(After 8:46 a.m.): United Flight Dispatcher Decides Flight 175 Is Hijacked

       Ed Ballinger, a United Airlines flight dispatcher, is handling 16 United transcontinental flights, including Flights 175 and 93. Shortly after hearing about the WTC crash, he contacts all of his flights to warn them. However, Flight 175 is “not acting appropriately,” and fails to respond. Ballinger concludes the flight has been hijacked. Whether he contacts anyone about his conclusions is unclear. [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/04]
People and organizations involved: Ed Ballinger
          

(8:46 a.m.): Fighters Ordered to Scramble to Flight 11 Nine Minutes After NORAD Notification

       Two F-15 fighters are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to find Flight 11, approximately 190 miles from the known location of the plane and 188 miles from New York City. [Channel 4 News, 9/13/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/15/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/17/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD makes the decision to scramble after only one phone call, as the decision is made to act first and get clearances later. Yet there is a nine-minute gap between when the 9/11 Commission says NORAD is notified about the hijacking at 8:37 a.m., and when the fighters are ordered scrambled. This delay has not been explained. The pilots had already received several unofficial warnings before this order—possibly as early as 8:34 a.m., 12 minutes earlier. One of the pilots recalls sitting in the cockpit, ready and waiting for the scramble order to come. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; BBC, 9/1/02] Yet, according to some reports, they do not take off for another six minutes, at 8:52 a.m. [NORAD, 9/18/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The fighters' initial target, Flight 11, is already crashing into the WTC at this time. NEADS Commander Robert Marr later claims, “My intent was to scramble Otis to military airspace while we found out what was going on.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 56]
People and organizations involved: Otis Air National Guard Base, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

8:48 a.m.: CNN First Major Network to Show WTC Crash Footage

       CNN is the first major network to show the footage of the crash site. It breaks into a commercial and anchor Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at ... obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network's vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don't know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737 ... a large passenger commercial jet ... It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into—probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 16-17; CNN, 9/11/01] Many reports do not come until a few minutes later. For instance, ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52 a.m. [ABC News, 9/14/02] Incredibly, a NORAD timeline presented to the 9/11 Commission in 2003 claims that CNN doesn't begin its coverage of the attacks until 8:57. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, CNN, Carol Lin, Sean Murtagh
          

(8:49 a.m.): United Airlines Headquarters Learns Flight 175 Is Missing; NORAD Apparently Not Informed

       Apparently, managers at United Airlines' headquarters in Chicago are unaware of any unfolding emergency until they watch CNN break the story at 8:48 a.m. (see 8:48 a.m.). “Within minutes,” United headquarters gets a call from the FAA, stating that the plane that crashed into the WTC was an American Airlines passenger plane. At about the same time and before a call about the flight that will take place at about 8:50 a.m., a manager says to Jim Goodwin (United's chairman and chief executive), “Boss, we've lost contact with one of our airplanes [Flight 175].” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] At around 9:00 a.m., a United dispatcher reports that Flight 175 has been lost (it is not clear whether this is a clarification of the earlier message or a change in the timing that one call occurred). [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] Ten days previously, Andy Studdert, the chief operating officer and executive vice president of United Airlines had surprised staff there with a crisis-training exercise, telling them a flight over the Pacific had broken radio contact and suffered a potentially disastrous engine failure. For 30 minutes, they had believed the story, before Studdert told them the truth. So, at around 9:00 a.m. on 9/11, after he arrives at the Operations Center within the United Airlines' headquarters, he shouts at the staff, “This is not a drill!” [Studdert Testimony, 1/27/04; USA Today, 8/12/02; Chicago Tribune, 7/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Jim Goodwin, United Airlines, Andy Studdert, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration
          

8:50 a.m.: Flight 175 Heads for New York City

       Flight 175, already off course, makes a near complete U-turn and starts heading north toward New York City. [CNN, 9/17/01]
          

8:51-8:53 a.m.: Flight Controller Declares Flight 175 Hijacked

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the flight controller handling Flight 175 (presumably Dave Bottoglia [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] ) only notices now that the flight's transponder signal has changed, although, according to other published reports, this happened around 8:46 a.m. The controller asks the plane to return to its proper transponder code. There is no response. Beginning at 8:52 a.m., the controller makes repeated attempts to contact the plane, but there is still no response. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Bottoglia contacts another controller at 8:53 a.m., and says, “We may have a hijack. We have some problems over here right now.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Guardian, 10/17/01; New York Times, 10/16/01] This account conflicts with earlier accounts that NORAD is notified at 8:43 a.m. that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [NORAD, 9/18/01] It also conflicts with Bottoglia's own account of finding Flight 175 at 8:46 a.m. and realizing it is hijacked at that time. [MSNBC, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Dave Bottoglia
          

(8:50 a.m.): Flight 175 Attendant Reports Plane Has Been Hijacked; United Headquarters Informed

      
Robert Fangman.
Rich Miles, manager of United's Chicago system operations center, receives a call from a mechanic at an airline maintenance center in San Francisco. (This center takes in-flight calls from flight attendants about broken items.) The mechanic informs Miles that a female flight attendant from Flight 175 has just called to report, “Oh my God. The crew has been killed, a flight attendant has been stabbed. we've been hijacked.” Then the line goes dead. A dispatcher monitoring the flight then sends messages to the plane's cockpit computer but gets no response. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04; Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01] This information is quickly relayed to United's headquarters. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] There is no published record identifying this female flight attendant. According to published accounts, a male flight attendant, Robert Fangman, calls from this flight at some unknown time. [CNN, 5/28/04] It is unclear whether the mechanic (or Miles) confused the gender of the caller, or two different attendants call from this flight. [CNN, 5/28/04]
People and organizations involved: Rich Miles, Robert Fangman
          

(8:52 a.m.): New York Flight Controller Tracks Flight 175 into New York; NORAD Not Warned?

      
Mike McCormick.
Mike McCormick, head of New York flight control center, sees the first WTC attack on CNN. He assumes that Flight 175, which he is tracking on his radar screen, is also headed into the WTC. He says, “Probably one of the most difficult moments of my life was the 11 minutes from the point I watched that aircraft, when we first lost communications until the point that aircraft hit the World Trade Center. For those 11 minutes, I knew, we knew, what was going to happen, and that was difficult.” [CNN, 8/12/02] Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, this flight control center will not notify NORAD about Flight 175 until after it crashes at 9:03 a.m.
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Mike McCormick
          

8:52 a.m.: Fighters Ordered Toward the Crashed Flight 11, Head for Flight 175 Instead

      
A typical F-15.
Two F-15s take off from Otis Air National Guard Base. This occurs six minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11(which has already crashed); 26 minutes after flight controllers were certain Flight 11 was hijacked; and 39 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with Flight 11. [Washington Post, 9/12/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; ABC News, 9/11/02; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/17/01; Washington Post, 9/15/01] The fighters inadvertently head toward Flight 175 instead. According to one of the pilots, as soon as they strap in, the green light to launch goes on, and they're up in the air even before their fighters' radar kicks in. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Otis Air National Guard Base
          

(After 8:52 a.m.): NORAD Scramble Delayed? Witness Casts Doubt on NORAD's Scramble Time

       William Wibel, principal of a school inside Otis Air National Guard Base, is inside the Otis base preparing for a meeting when he learns that the WTC has been attacked and his meeting is canceled. He says, “As I drove away, and was listening to the news on the radio, the 102nd was scrambling into duty.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/12/01] The WTC crash does not break on local news and radio until about 8:52 a.m. Even if he hears CNN's early reporting starting at 8:48 a.m., it still presumably takes time to learn the meeting is canceled, go back to his car and so forth. NORAD says the fighters took off from Otis at 8:52 a.m.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, William Wibel
          

8:52 am (and After): Otis Fighters Scramble to New York; Conflicting Accounts of Urgency and Destination

      
Route of the Otis Air National Guard fighters to New York City.
The F-15 fighters are scrambling to New York City. Later accounts concerning these fighters conflict significantly. According one account, pilot Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy later recalls that they are in a hurry at this time: “we've been over the flight a thousand times in our minds and I don't know what we could have done to get there any quicker.” However, though Duffy says he's been warned Flight 11 had been hijacked and appears headed toward New York City, he does not yet realize that his flight is anything other than a routine exercise: “It's just peacetime. We're not thinking anything real bad is going to happen out there.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02; BBC, 9/1/02] But, in another account, Duffy claims that fellow officer tells him before takeoff, “This looks like the real thing.” “It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Full-blower means the fighters are traveling at or near full speed. An F-15 can travel over 1,875 mph. [Air Force News, 7/30/97] A considerable amount of fuel is required to maintain such high speeds for long, but a NORAD commander notes that, coincidentally, these fighters are stocked with extra fuel. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Duffy later says, “As we're climbing out, we go supersonic on the way, which is kind of nonstandard for us.” He says his target destination is over Kennedy airport in New York City. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Similarly, another account states that, as the F-15s are taking off, “Duffy told his wingman they would fly supersonic.” According to Duffy, “When we took off I left it in full afterburner the whole time.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 57] He says, “When we [take] off we [start] climbing a 280-heading, basically towards New York City. I [am] supersonic. ... We [are] to proceed to Manhattan directly and set up a combat air patrol.” [BBC, 9/1/02] There are different accounts as to just how quickly they travel. According to Major General Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, “The pilots [fly] ‘like a scalded ape,’ topping 500 mph but [are] unable to catch up to the airliner.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01 Sources: Paul Weaver] ABC News later says, “The fighters are hurtling toward New York at mach 1.2, nearly 900 miles per hour.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold later states that the fighters head straight for New York City at about 1,100 to 1,200 mph. [Slate, 1/16/02; MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C) Sources: Larry Arnold] “An F-15 departing from Otis can reach New York City in ten to twelve minutes, according to an Otis spokeswoman.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/16/01] At an average speed of 1,125 mph, the fighters would reach the city in ten minutes—9:02 a.m. If NORAD commander Arnold's recollection is correct, these fighters should reach Flight 175 just before it crashes. Yet according to a NORAD timeline developed just after 9/11, the fighters take about 19 minutes to reach New York City (arriving at about 9:11 a.m.), traveling below supersonic speeds at less than 600 mph. [NORAD, 9/18/01] According to a later account though, these fighters weren't even heading toward Manhattan. Contradicting his earlier recollection, pilot Timothy Duffy says, “we were supersonic going down to Long Island. � [W]e have no idea what we are going toward. We are taking off to go help somebody and we needed to get there quickly to assess the situation.” NEADS Commander Robert Marr says that after they received word of the first plane hitting the WTC, “Our jets are heading down south toward Whiskey 105 and we don't really have a mission for them at this point, because we don't have any other problems in the air.” Whiskey 105 is military training airspace southeast of Long Island. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 57-59] Consistent with this account but also contradicting the earlier recollections of pilots and others involved that day, the 9/11 Commission later concludes, in direct contradiction of the recollections of the pilots and others involved that day, that the fighters are never directed toward New York City at all, but rather are ordered to head out over the Atlantic Ocean. According to the 9/11 Commission's conclusions, the fighters do not reach New York City until 9:25 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Timothy Duffy
          

(8:52 a.m.): Flight 175 Passenger Details Stabbing

      
Peter Hanson.
Businessman Peter Hanson calls his father from Flight 175 and says, “Oh, my God! They just stabbed the airline hostess. I think the airline is being hijacked.” Despite being cut off twice, he manages to report how men armed with knives are stabbing flight attendants, apparently in an attempt to force crewmembers to unlock the doors to the cockpit. He calls again a couple of minutes before the plane crashes. [Toronto Sun, 9/16/01; Daily Telegraph, 9/16/01 (B); BBC, 9/13/01] Hanson's father immediately calls the local police department and relays what he heard. [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Peter Hanson
          

(8:55 a.m.): New York Flight Control Believes Flight 175 Has Been Hijacked; NORAD Reportedly Not Informed

       The head New York flight controller notifies a manager at the facility that she believes Flight 175 has been hijacked. The manager tries to notify regional managers about this, but cannot reach them because they are discussing the hijacking of Flight 11 and refuse to be disturbed. However, even though the controller managing Flight 175 said, “we may have a hijack” at 8:53 a.m., the 9/11 Commission concluded that NORAD is not notified by this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The commission's account conflicts with previous accounts stating that NORAD is notified of the Flight 175 hijacking at 8:43 a.m. (see 8:43 a.m.) The head of the flight control center, Mike McCormick, has already decided at 8:52 a.m. that Flight 175 has been hijacked and is on a suicide run to New York City (see (8:52 a.m.)). [CNN, 8/12/02]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Mike McCormick
          

8:58 a.m.: Flight 175 Passenger Says Passengers Want to Do Something About Hijacking

      
Brian Sweeney.
Brian Sweeney, a passenger on Flight 175, calls his wife, but can only leave a message. “We've been hijacked, and it doesn't look too good.” Then he calls his mother and tells her what is happening onboard. [Hyannis News, 9/13/01; Washington Post, 9/21/01] She recalls him saying, “They might come back here. I might have to go. We are going to try to do something about this.” She also recalls him identifying the hijackers as Middle Eastern. Then he tells his mother he loves her and hangs up the phone. The mother turns on the television and soon sees Flight 175 crash into the WTC. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the Flight 175 passengers planned to storm the cockpit but did not have time before the plane crashed. [New York Daily News, 3/9/04; CNN, 3/10/04]
People and organizations involved: Brian Sweeney
          

(9:00 a.m.): WTC South Tower Announcement: OK to Return to Offices

      
People inside the World Trade Center flee down a stairway.
A public announcement is broadcast inside the WTC Tower Two (the South Tower, which has yet to be hit), saying that the building is secure and people can return to their offices. [New York Times, 9/11/02] Such announcements continue until a few minutes before the building is hit, and “may [lead] to the deaths of hundreds of people.” No one knows exactly what is said (though many later recall the phrase “the building is secure”), or who gives the authority to say it. [USA Today, 9/3/02] Additionally, security agents inside the building repeat similar messages to individuals in the tower. For instance, one survivor recounts hearing, “Our building is secure. You can go back to your floor. If you're a little winded, you can get a drink of water or coffee in the cafeteria.” [New York Times, 9/13/01 (G)] Another survivor recalls an escaping crowd actually running over a man with a bullhorn encouraging them to return to their desks. [Newsday, 9/12/01] Businessman Steve Miller recalls hearing a voice say over the building's loudspeaker something similar to: “There's a fire in Tower One. Tower Two in unaffected. If you want to leave, you can leave. If you want to return to your office, it's okay.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (D)] British visitor Mike Shillaker recalls, “As we got to around floor 50, a message came over the [loudspeaker], telling us that there was an isolated fire in Tower One, and we did not need to evacuate Tower Two. Again, thank god we continued down, others didn't.” [BBC, 9/1/02 (B)] Despite messages to the contrary, about two-thirds of the tower's occupants evacuate during the 17 minutes between the attacks. [USA Today, 12/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Mike Shillaker, Steve Miller
          

(After 9:00 a.m.): Flight Dispatcher Sends Warning to All United Flights, Including Flight 93

       Ed Ballinger, a flight dispatcher for United Airlines, is continuing to send messages one by one to the 16 transcontinental flights he is covering, warning them of the first WTC crash. He is handling both Flights 175 and 93, and 175 has failed to respond to his message. A few minutes after 9:00, he sends a message to Flight 93. The exact content of the message is not known, but apparently it doesn't advise the pilots to bar the cockpit door. [New York Observer, 6/17/04; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] Another flight controller at the Cleveland tower in charge of Flight 93 at the time later recalls, “I saw controllers step up to the plate and start warning flight crews. This was totally by the seat of their pants. It's not because they're directed to by anybody. It's just, OK, everybody's on alert right now.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] Ballinger later says, “One of the things that upset me was that [the FAA and United Airlines headquarters] knew, 45 minutes before [Flight 93 crashed], that American Airlines had a problem. I put the story together myself [from news accounts]. Perhaps if I had the information sooner, I might have gotten the message to [Flight] 93 to bar the door.” [New York Observer, 6/17/04] Ballinger will send Flight 93 a second, more detailed warning that does warn to bar the door. It will reach Flight 93 at 9:24 a.m., shortly before the flight is hijacked.
People and organizations involved: Ed Ballinger, Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines
          

(Before 9:00 a.m.): Fire Department Advice to Evacuate WTC Tower Fails to Reach People Inside

       Shortly before 9:00 a.m., fire department commanders at WTC Tower One advise Port Authority police and building personnel to evacuate Tower Two. However, there is no evidence that this advice is communicated effectively to the building personnel in Tower Two. When an announcement is made to evacuate at 9:02 a.m. (one minute before the building is hit), it does not direct everyone to evacuate, and advises only that everyone may wish to start an orderly evacuation if warranted by conditions on their floor. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

9:00 a.m.: Flight 175 Passenger Brian Sweeney Predicts Crash into Building

       Flight 175 passenger Brian Sweeney calls his parents a second time, and says to his father, “It's getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It's getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don't think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—don't worry, Dad—If it happens, it'll be very fast—My God, my God.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Brian Sweeney
          

(9:01 a.m.): New York Flight Control Informs Low Altitude NYC Controllers About Flight 175 Hijacking

       New York flight control contacts New York terminal approach control and asks for help in locating Flight 175. Different flight controllers scan different altitudes, and terminal approach controllers only deal with low-flying planes. These low altitude flight controllers have remained uninformed about the fate of Flight 11 until about now: “We had 90 to 120 seconds; it wasn't any 18 minutes,” says one controller, referring to the actual elapsed time between the two crashes. Another such controller says of both planes: “They dove into the airspace. By the time anybody saw anything, it was over.” [New York Times, 9/13/01 (F); 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control
          

(9:01 a.m.): New York Flight Control Tells FAA Command Center About Flight 175 Hijack; Wants NORAD Help

       A manager from New York flight control tells the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, “We have several situations going on here. It's escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us. ... We're, We're involved with something else, we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here...” The 9/11 Commission calls this the first notification to FAA leadership of the second hijack, but NORAD is not yet notified. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] If this is true, then it means United Airlines headquarters has not yet contacted the FAA, despite knowing Flight 175 has been hijacked since about 8:50 a.m.
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(Between 9:01-9:03 a.m.): Flight Controllers, American Headquarters Watch Flight 175 Head into New York City

       Flight 175 is an unmarked blip to flight controllers in New York City. One controller stands up in horror. “No, he's not going to land. He's going in!” Another controller shouts, “Oh, my God! He's headed for the city. ... Oh, my God! He's headed for Manhattan!” [Washington Post, 9/21/01] Managers at American Airlines' headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, also closely watch Flight 175 head into New York City on radar. [USA Today, 8/12/02] Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, no one has notified NORAD about the flight.
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(9:03-9:08 a.m.): Flight Control Managers Ban Aircraft Around New York and Washington

       In a series of stages, flight control managers ban aircraft from flying near the cities targeted by the hijackers. All takeoffs and landings in New York City are halted within a minute of the Flight 175 crash, without asking for permission from Washington. Boston and Newark flight control centers follow suit in the next few minutes. Around 9:08 a.m., departures nationwide heading to or through New York and Boston airspace are canceled. [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); USA Today, 8/13/02; Associated Press, 8/12/02; Newsday, 9/10/02] Mike McCormick, head of a Long Island, New York, air traffic control center, makes the decision without consulting any superiors. [ABC News, 8/12/02] In addition, “a few minutes” after 9:03 a.m., all takeoffs from Washington are stopped. [USA Today, 8/12/02; USA Today, 8/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Mike McCormick
          

(After 9:03 a.m.): New York and Washington Flight Controllers Told to Watch for Suspicious Aircraft

       New York flight controllers are told by the FAA to watch for airplanes whose speed indicates that they are jets, but which either are not responding to commands or have disabled their transponders. “Controllers in Washington [get] a similar briefing, which [help] them pick out hijacked planes more quickly.” [New York Times, 9/13/01 (F)] Other centers are apparently not told the same, and Indianapolis flight control apparently remains unaware of any crisis. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, New York flight control, Indianapolis flight control
          

9:03 a.m.: Newark Flight Controllers Watch Flight 175 Hit WTC

      
The explosion caused by Flight 175.
Flight controllers in Newark, New Jersey, are on the phone with New York flight controllers and are asked to find Flight 175 from their windows. They see it and watch in horror as it drops the last five thousand feet and crashes into the WTC. Rick Tepper (who also saw the explosion of the first crash) recalls, “He was in a hard right bank, diving very steeply and very fast. And he—as he was coming up the Hudson River, he—he made another hard left turn and—just heading for downtown Manhattan. ... You could see that he was trying to line himself up on the tower. Just before he hit the tower, he almost leveled it out and just—just hit the building.” Newark immediately calls the Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Washington and tells them they will not land any more airplanes in Newark, in an effort to keep aircraft away from New York City. It is the first step in shutting down the national airspace system. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, Air Traffic Control System Command Center, New York flight control, Rick Tepper
          

9:03 a.m.: Flight 175 Crashes into WTC South Tower; Millions Watch Live on Television

      
Flight 175 an instant before it hits the WTC south tower.
Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower Two). Seismic records pinpoint the time at six seconds before 9:03 a.m. (rounded to 9:03 a.m.). [USA Today, 9/3/02; New York Times, 9/11/02; USA Today, 12/20/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); New York Times, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/17/01; NORAD, 9/18/01; CNN, 9/12/01] Millions watch the crash live on television. The plane strikes the 78th through 84th floors in the 110-story building. Approximately 100 people are killed or injured in the initial impact; 600 people in the tower eventually die. All but four of those killed work above the crash point. The death toll is far lower than in the North Tower because about two-thirds of the South Tower's occupants have evacuated the building in the 17 minutes since the first tower was struck. [USA Today, 12/20/01] The combined death toll from the two towers is estimated at 2,819, not including the hijackers. [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

(9:03 a.m.): Boston Flight Control Tells FAA That Hijackers Said We Have Planes, FAA Suggests Notifying NORAD

       A manager at Boston flight control reports to the FAA's New England regional headquarters the “We have some planes” comment made by a Flight 11 hijacker at 8:24 a.m. (see (8:24 a.m.)). The Boston controller says, “I'm gonna reconfirm with, with downstairs, but the, as far as the tape ... seemed to think the guy said that ‘we have planes.’ Now, I don't know if it was because it was the accent, or if there's more than one [hijacked plane], but I'm gonna, I'm gonna reconfirm that for you, and I'll get back to you real quick. Okay?” Asked, “They have what?,” this person clarifies, “Planes, as in plural. ... It sounds like, We're talking to New York, that there's another one aimed at the World Trade Center. ... A second one just hit the Trade Center.” The person at New England headquarters replies, “Okay. Yeah, we gotta get—we gotta alert the military real quick on this.” At 9:05 a.m., Boston confirms for this headquarters and the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, that a hijacker said, “we have planes” (forgetting the “some”). [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] It appears Boston replays the recording of the hijacker saying this from about 30 minutes earlier. Other people, such as American Airlines leader Gerard Arpey at that airline's headquarters, apparently learned about this comment before the Flight 11 crash at 8:46 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m.)
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Boston flight control, Gerard Arpey
          

(9:03 a.m.): Fighters Do Not Have Shootdown Authority

       A fighter pilot flying from Otis Air Base toward New York City later notes that it wouldn't have mattered if he caught up with Flight 175, because only President Bush could order a shootdown, and Bush is at a public event at the time. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] “Only the president has the authority to order a civilian aircraft shot down,” according to a 1999 CNN report. [CNN, 10/26/99] In fact, by 9/11, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also has the authority to order a shootdown, but he is not responding to the crisis at this time. [New York Observer, 6/17/04] Furthermore, NORAD Commander Larry Arnold later states that on 9/11, “I have the authority in case of an emergency to declare a target hostile and shoot it down under an emergency condition.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 75]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld
          

(9:03 a.m.): Contradictions over Otis Fighter Mission and Whereabouts

       The minute Flight 175 hits the South Tower, pilot Major Daniel Nash says that clear visibility allows him to see smoke pour out of Manhattan, even though NORAD says he is 71 miles away. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] The other Otis pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy, recalls, “We're 60 miles out, and I could see the smoke from the towers.” They call NORAD right then for an update, and Duffy relates, “At that point, they said the second aircraft just hit the World Trade Center. That was news to me. I thought we were still chasing American [Airlines Flight] 11.” [ABC News, 9/14/02] In another account Duffy again relates, “It was right about then when they said the second aircraft had just hit the World Trade Center, which was quite a shock to both [Nash] and I, because we both thought there was only one aircraft out there. We were probably 70 miles or so out when the second one hit. So, we were just a matter of minutes away.” [BBC, 9/1/02] He asks for clarification of their mission, but the request is met with “considerable confusion.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Bob Varcadapane, a Newark, New Jersey, flight controller who sees the Flight 175 crash, claims, “I remember the two F-15s. They were there moments after the impact. And I was just—said to myself, ‘If only they could have gotten there a couple minutes earlier.’ They just missed it.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] However, the 9/11 Commission appears to believe that the pilots never get near New York City at this time. According to the commission's account, from 8:46 a.m. until 8:52 a.m., NORAD personnel are unable to find Flight 11. Shortly after 8:50 a.m., and just before the fighters take off, NORAD is given word that a plane has hit the WTC (see (8:50 a.m.)). Lacking a clear target, the fighters take off toward a military controlled airspace over the ocean, off the coast of Long Island. A map released by the 9/11 Commission indicates that at 9:03 the fighters are about 100 miles away and heading southwest instead of west to New York City. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The 9/11 Commission says that, at 9:10 a.m., Boston flight control tells the Otis fighters about the second WTC tower being struck. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, p. 459]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Nash, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Bob Varcadapane, World Trade Center, Timothy Duffy
          

(9:03 a.m.): New York Flight Control Informs NORAD That Flight 175 Has Been Hijacked; Timing of Notice in Question

       The 9/11 Commission later concludes that New York flight control tells NEADS that Flight 175 has been hijacked at this time. The commission refers to this as “the first indication that the NORAD air defenders had of the second hijacked aircraft.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, claims that he first learns a flight other than Flight 11 has been hijacked when he sees Flight 175 crash into the WTC on television. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] NEADS Mission Crew Commander Dawne Deskins claims that when she sees Flight 175 hitting the South Tower on television, “we didn't even know there was a second hijack.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 59] However, these accounts contradict NORAD's conclusion reached shortly after 9/11 that it was first notified about Flight 175 at 8:43 a.m. (see 8:43 a.m.). [NORAD, 9/18/01] Additionally, as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC, Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek (who is overseeing the Command Center in NORAD's Colorado headquarters) is on the phone with NEADS. He sees the crash live on television and asks NEADS, “Was that the hijacked aircraft you were dealing with?” The reply is yes. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] If the commission's account is correct, several questions remain unanswered. Flight 175 lost radio contact at 8:42 a.m. (see 8:41 a.m.) and changed transponder signals at 8:46 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m.); a flight controller declared it possibly hijacked sometime between 8:46 a.m. and 8:53 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m.); and a flight control manager called it hijacked at 8:55 a.m.(see (8:55 a.m.)) The commission has not explained why New York flight control would wait 10-17 minutes before warning NORAD that Flight 175 is possibly hijacked. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] It also would not explain why United Airlines headquarters would fail to notify NORAD National Guard after learning that the plane has been hijacked at about 8:50 a.m. (see (8:50 a.m.))
People and organizations involved: New York flight control, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Robert Marr, United Airlines, Mike Jellinek, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(9:06-9:16 a.m.): Bush Reads Pet Goat Story for Nearly Ten Minutes; Warned Not to Talk

      
President Bush and Sandra Kay Daniels read the goat story while the media watches.
President Bush, having just been told of the second WTC crash, stays in the Booker Elementary School Classroom, and listens as 16 Booker Elementary School second-graders take turns reading “The Pet Goat.” It's a simple story about a girl's pet goat. [Editor and Publisher, 7/2/04; Agence France-Presse, 9/7/02] They are just about to begin reading when Bush is told of the attack. One account says that the classroom is then silent for about 30 seconds, maybe more. Bush then picks up the book and reads with the children “for eight or nine minutes.” [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02] In unison, the children read aloud, “The—Pet— Goat. A—girl—got—a—pet—goat. But—the—goat—did— some—things—that—made—the—girl's—dad—mad.” And so on. Bush mostly listens, but does ask the children a few questions to encourage them. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] At one point he says, “Really good readers, whew! ... These must be sixth-graders!” [Time, 9/12/01] In the back of the room, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer catches Bush's eye and holds up a pad of paper for him to read, with “ DON' T SAY ANYTHING YET” written on it in big block letters. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] (Note that three articles claim that Bush leaves the classroom at 9:12 a.m.) [Daily Mail, 9/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] However, a videotape of the event lasts for “at least seven additional minutes” and ends before Bush leaves. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] (The timing of this entry is a rough approximation based mostly on the Tampa Tribune estimate. Much of this video footage is shown in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. [New York Times, 6/18/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush
          

(9:08-9:13 a.m.): Fighters Put in Holding Pattern over Ocean Instead of Defending New York City

      
Bush reacts to the message Andrew Card has just given him.
The two F-15s scrambled to find Flight 11 in New York are now ordered to circle in a 150-mile window of air space off the coast of Long Island. It is not clear whether they reach New York City before being directed over the ocean. Pilot Major Daniel Nash states, “Neither the civilian controller or the military controller knew what they wanted us to do.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] At 9:09 a.m., the NEADS Mission Crew Commander learns of the second WTC crash, and decides to send the fighters to New York City. At 9:10 a.m., the senior director on the NEADS floor tells the weapons director, “I want those fighters closer in.” NEADS controllers are concerned about refueling, and are simultaneously working with a tanker to relocate close to the Otis fighters. Then, at 9:11 a.m., either the senior weapons director at NEADS or his technician instructs the Otis fighters to “remain at current position [holding pattern] until FAA requests assistance.” According to the 9/11 Commission, the record of this instruction is the only NEADS recording of the NEADS senior weapons director and weapons director technician responsible for controlling the Otis scramble that is available to them. This, they state, is because of a “technical issue.” The Commission says the Otis fighters remain in a holding pattern over the ocean until 9:13 a.m. while the FAA clears the airspace. The fighters then establish a Combat Air Patrol over the city at 9:25 a.m. What the fighters do between 9:13 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. is unclear. The distance between the two locations is unknown but presumably not large. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 459-460] These fighters remain over New York City for the next four hours. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Nash, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Federal Aviation Administration
          

9:58 a.m.: Fighters to New York City Possibly Scrambled 56 Minutes Late, According to Giuliani and Early Reports

      
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will become well known for his walking press conferences in the middle of the 9/11 crisis.
According to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's 9/11 Commission testimony in 2004, about one minute before the first WTC tower falls, he is able to reach the White House by phone. Speaking to Chris Henick, deputy political director to President Bush, Giuliani learns the Pentagon has been hit and he asks about fighter cover over New York City. Henick replies, “The jets were dispatched 12 minutes ago and they should be there very shortly, and they should be able to defend you against further attack.” [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04] If this is true, it means fighters scramble from the Otis base around 9:46 a.m., not at 8:52 a.m., as most other accounts have claimed. While Giuliani's account may seem wildly off, it is consistent with reports shortly after 9/11. In the first few days, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers, and a NORAD spokesman, Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder, claimed no fighters were scrambled anywhere until after the Pentagon was hit. [Boston Globe, 9/15/01; General Myers' confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] This story only changed on the evening of September 14, 2001, when CBS reported, “contrary to early reports, US Air Force jets did get into the air on Tuesday while the attacks were under way.” [CBS News, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, Pentagon, Mike Snyder, Chris Henick, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

(9:59 a.m.): Fighter over New York City Never Receives Formal Shootdown Order

      
An F-16 flies over New York City on September 12, 2001. Smoke is still rising from the World Trade Center.
According to Major Daniel Nash, pilot of one of the two fighters first scrambled on 9/11 at 8:52 a.m., their fighters over New York City are never given a shootdown order by the military that day. He recalls that around the time of the collapse of the South Tower, “The New York controller did come over the radio and say if we have another hijacked aircraft, we're going to have to shoot it down.” [BBC, 9/1/02] However, he says this is an off-the-cuff personal statement, not connected to the chain of command. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Nash
          

(9:59 a.m.): Clarke Told Some Hijackers Have al-Qaeda Connections

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told in private by Dale Watson, counterterrorism chief at the FBI, “We got the passenger manifests from the airlines. We recognize some names, Dick. They're al-Qaeda.” Clarke replies, “How the f_ck did they get on board then?” He is told, “Hey, don't shoot the messenger, friend. CIA forgot to tell us about them.” As they are talking about this, they see the first WTC tower collapse on television. [Clarke, 2004, pp 13-14] Some hijacker names, including Mohamed Atta's, were identified on a reservations computer over an hour earlier.
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Dale Watson
          

9:59 a.m.: South Tower of WTC Collapses

      
The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:03 A.M., 57 minutes earlier (see 9:03 a.m.). [Washington Post, 9/12/01; ABC News, 9/11/02; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); MSNBC, 9/22/01; New York Times, 9/12/01 (B); USA Today, 12/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          


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